Warnock Looks For Winning Answers in Taming The Shrews
By Robert Nichols
Friday 04 Sep 2020 11:02:00
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Neil Warnock's Boro kick off the season with a tea time Carabao Cup home tie against League One Shrewsbury. The Boro boss will be treating this tie very seriously and using it finalise his plans to convert Boro from a low scoring team into a side with goals for the top end of the Championship. Expect a full first team but with a few surprises. Expect to see Boro determined to make a statement at the expense of the travelling Shrews. Kick off 5.30pm at an empty Riverside. Streaming pass available for a tenner (EFL set price).

Boro aim to kick on from an impressive pre season and build on this in a first competitive game this evening. Neil Warnock might not have landed any transfer targets after the signing of Grant Hall but he seems relaxed with what he has got and confident that he can find the firepower to reward us with a good season.

The Boro boss reflected about tonight's game with BBC Look North at yesterday's Zoom press conference.

“When I talked to Sam Ricketts (Shrews manager) we both thought it would be good to have that as the last pre-season, where you just step up a gear with the intensity of something at stake. I am glad that it is 90 minutes and no extra time and things like that. I think it will be a little bit more competitive than pre season although we have had two or three games quite competitive if I am honest.”

I then asked the Boro boss about how we would aim to tackle our home hoodoo, having not won at the Riverside, peopled or empty since last year.

“Somebody said should we said should we let our opponents have our dressing room and we will change somewhere else like we do away from home,” he joked.

But then more truthfully the evergreen manager said:

“But we lost the games at home because we weren't good enough, it was nothing to do with dressing room and things like that or the fans, we just weren't good enough.”

Then came an admission about his own losing Riverside games.

“One or two of the games tactically I have probably got a little bit wrong, thinking that we could do more than we did.”

But Warnock was keen to emphasise the positive of that Championship saving run in.

“I think overall away from home we were magnificent. I thought we should have won every game away from home. That showed me what they are capable of.”

How to take that into the new situation and start to make Middlesbrough move on up.

“Now we have to think, a new season, we have to play football that gives our strikers the opportunity to create chances and to take them. That's the art. Trying to get a system that suits everybody at the club.”

How will he do that, exactly?

“I have changed my mind a couple of times since I entered the building about systems and how I want to play. Looking at what we have we think we are coming up with probably the answer.”

Clearly Neil Warnock has faith in his twin strike force and if we can feed them correctly then they can grab the goals.

I wondered how seriously Warnock would be taking the old League Cup. Remembering all his epic cup battles at Sheffield United, the cup ties seem to bring out the best in his teams competitive spirit.

Will you be treating the League Cup seriously, I asked him?

“I will be on Friday yes because I will be playing the full team and it is another pre-season game in my eyes. That's why it's good. I don't think we are going to win the Carabao Cup. But this Friday I will be taking it seriously and then I will be judging each and whenever it is because it is every week, isn't it? So, we will have to look at it after that.”

Reflecting on the cups as a whole, Neil Warnock thought back to his days in charge of the flashing Blades etc.

“The FA Cup, I love the FA Cup because I am a bit of a traditionalist. But that year at Sheffield we got to the semi final of the League Cup and semi final of the FA Cup and got battered in the final of the play offs, we were just that knackered. So, you can't have everything. You try but you can't have everything.”

There were a few clues about players to look out for being involved tonight.

“Sam (I can't tell you his second name, what is it Dewsy?) Folarin, he has been exciting, I have loved watching him. Giving him the freedom to have a run at and frightening defenders. So, its nice to see these lads come on. He will be involved against Shrewsbury as well but I do need three or four good players to come in and supplement that. It hasn't helped with Saville and Paddy McNair being away on international duty.”

One player that won't be involved is Hayden Coulson, suffering from a virus (not COVID). Dael Fry has also been quarantining until yesterday but replacing him in training Nathan Wood has impressed.

“Dael Fry didn't play last week and we put young Woodsy in and I thought he did ever so well. So, that is a new thing to ponder at this moment in time. Do we need another centre half or could Woodsy fill in for us. Paddy has played there, very, very well pre-season. He looked like Beckenbauer at Plymouth, he did.”

Boro start the ball rolling in season 2020-2021 with a Carabao Cup tie v Shrewsbury Town at the Riverside this tea time – 5.30pm kick off. Stream On. Come On Boro

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